How working with local community cadets can be a “win-win” situation

In an interview for Connected - the magazine for CCF adult instructors, Air Commodore Dawn McCafferty shares her advice on how CCFs and community cadet units can work together to achieve common goals. 

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There are lots of practical reasons for cadet organisations to work together, whether they’re community-based or in school Contingents, according to Air Commodore Dawn McCafferty, Commandant Air Cadets.

“One is simply resource-driven,” she says. “If you’ve got a shortage of volunteers, then sharing resources is just a practical way forward, whether that’s staff resource, equipment or access to facilities.”

But there are also reasons beyond the practical, which have more to do with breaking down social barriers and promoting inclusion. “Working together gets cadets from all different backgrounds to mix,” Air Commodore McCafferty says. “There’s still a tendency to view the two types of cadets, community and CCF, as separate but, whilst they may have different perspectives or backgrounds, they share a common passion, which is to be a cadet, to go flying (in the case of my cadets), and possibly to join the armed forces.”

She acknowledges that the two types of cadets don’t traditionally mix, but this is a culture she’s working to change among the ATC and CCF (RAF), with a specific objective in her Strategy to encourage mutual cooperation where possible. She points out that there are a number of volunteers who hold positions in both kinds of cadet forces, and some super keen cadets who parade in school and in the community, which shows that there are some areas where the two are well integrated. 

In terms of advice for CCFs looking to reach out to community units, she says a good first step is to simply find out where they are by contacting the local Wing headquarters, and get in touch. You could suggest an initial meeting just to discuss potential options for cooperation. She adds: “I think once they get together and realise they’re in it for the same thing, which is to deliver a better cadet experience for the young people we’re responsible for, it’s then a matter of finding out what each party has to offer the other.”

Much of the cooperation will come down to the personality and willingness of individuals, and there may be practical barriers to working together, such as distance or differing parade times. But, “the culture I want to foster is one of mutual cooperation in the interests of the cadets,” Air Commodore McCafferty says. With that in mind, there can’t be any harm in trying.

What community cadets and CCFs can offer each other

Senior cadets

It can be difficult for CCFs to develop experienced senior cadets, because they tend to have less time for in-depth training. Community cadets, however, often stay until they are 19 or 20 and can access lots of leadership training. So if a CCF was looking for older cadets to help run activities or be role models for the younger cadets, there may be local cadets who could help, and they could use it as DofE volunteering or similar.

Facilities and equipment

If your school has space for fieldcraft activities, a pool, some kayaks, a range or anything that could support cadet training, why not offer it to a community unit for a weekend or evening – or even better, set up a joint event for all your cadets.

Ceremonial training

Got a drill competition coming up? Perhaps the local community cadets can lend you their drill Warrant Officer or even a qualified senior cadet for a session.

Camp or Air Experience drop-outs?

By close liaison with community cadets, you can fill camp or flying slots when either side experiences a drop out at short notice.